Like most people I have a wholesome interest in horrific genetic mutations. A cat with one head is fine, but show me a cat with three or even better four heads, and you’ve got my attention.
This is why the work of Chinese artist Shen Shaomin caught my eye a few years ago. Shaomin uses real animal bones and glue to construct hideous but fascinating abominations of nature. When seen in a gallery space they bring to mind museum exhibitions of prehistoric animals, excavated from the fossilized vaults of the Earth. However, some of these creatures have disturbingly human characteristics too, more akin to mythical beasts from a distant and forgotten nightmare…
The artist summed up his work in an interview:
With most of my work there are two stages. When people first see it they might think it’s beautiful. But there is a horror within that beauty – that so-called beauty. There’s a violence in there too, and I have to work very hard to make people see that violence.
Getting people to experience that terror is the ultimate purpose of my work. It’s not my job to give people something beautiful to look at – they can go to the park for that. There are many beautiful things to look at, but I think that contemporary people lack an ability to think beyond what they can see. The space we have for our current kind of existence is shrinking. The way we live our lives is getting more and more frightening.
For more info on Shen Shaomin, visit his website shenshaomin.com